In Season – December
For a 'tasteful' Christmas, serve up freshly-picked, locally-grown veg alongside your turkey this year!
Brussels Sprouts: not quite the enemy they were once considered, Brussells sprouts are today gathering quite a following. They much prefer to be sautéed than boiled – try them finely shredded into sesame oil with lardons, chestnuts and flaked almonds. They can even be grated and eaten raw in salads – a winter slaw with an Asian dressing for Boxing Day would be the perfect occasion.
Try this: create a gratin for your Christmas table by simmering your sprouts, then stir frying them with bacon lardons and flaked almonds. Add a tub of Jess’s Ladies cream, freshly ground pepper and reduce. Add a squirt of lemon juice and place in an ovenproof dish. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and cook until brown.
Kale: an ancestor of cabbage, kale is a hardy winter vegetable, surviving often where cabbage won’t. It can be used in much the same way as cabbage or winter greens, and is particularly good with game birds such as pheasant, partridge, guinea fowl and duck. Try throwing handfuls into minestrone soup or hearty stews for a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals or do what the fashionable set do and create kale chips by roasting leaves coated in olive oil and salt and pepper.
Try this: whip up a simple pasta dish by cooking up some tagliatelle. Blanch a bunch of kale, then chop finely. Fry the chopped kale in a large pan; add the cooked tagliatelle, some lemon zest and juice, a can of cooked chickpeas and a handful of grated pecorino cheese. Season and serve with extra cheese.
Cauliflower: one of our favourite home-grown veggies, cauliflower is a real all-rounder. At the Farmers’ Market you can find a number of different varieties of cauliflower, some with striking purple crowns, or the beautiful green spirals of the romanesco. Cauliflower is much loved in all its various forms from aloo gobi to cauliflower cheese and makes a mean soup when partnered with a strong cheese, such as Godsell’s Scary Mary. It’s also particularly good when roasted, spiced, mashed or simply served with a white sauce with your roast.
Try this: parboil and blanch a handful of cauliflower florets. Serve as crudités with a cheesy dip for easy Christmas entertaining.
Carrots: not just for Rudolph, carrots will play a huge part in most people’s Christmas dinner. These days most of us expect our carrots to have a bit more pizazz than simply being blandly boiled, and a good thing too – roasting them with honey, maple syrup or a scattering of thyme brings out their sweetness and gives them the starring role they deserve. Finely sliced or grated raw carrot also makes a welcome addition to a Boxing Day slaw – the perfect antidote to all that rich food from the day before!
Try this: make a carrot and hummus dip by roasting carrots along with a mix of olive oil, cumin and garlic. Add a tin of chickpeas, toss then blend. Add olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning.
You can buy fresh seasonal produce this autumn from the following stalls every Saturday:
Coleshill Organic Farm, Croft Farm, Duncan Paget & Co, Over Farm Market, Newark Farm, Hotch Potch Organic and Days Cottage.